A Hack Over Fake News, Which Happened To Be Fake News About A Hack?

Yesterday, as reported by Softpedia News, FBI.gov and a server attached to the site containing backup files on Government log-in credentials was hacked and subsequently leaked online by an alleged member of Anonymous calling himself “CyberZeist.

This is not the first time CyberZeist has breached the US Government and leaked files online, but what is so interesting about this event in particular is that none of the news/information surrounding the hack was released until nearly a week after it occurred – at least inside the United States that is.

In a brief statement posted to Pastebin.com, which oddly enough has yet to be take down by the FBI, CyberZeist briefly addresses the issue of foreign hacking and the state of the media/news inside the United States. Before we move on, it is odd that Pastbin hasn’t taken down this post because it contains confidential FBI log in credentials and usually something like that is deleted off the internet as soon as anyone becomes aware of it.

In his statements, CyberZeist found it odd why the FBI never released a statement about the hack and why not one news agency inside the United States covered the hack – despite several international news agencies reporting on it. CyberZeist even went on to include a list of hyperlinks to these reports and oddly enough, all of the coverage seems to originate out of Russia and Germany.

As for the reason no one inside the USA heard about this hack, this is because the hack might not have ever occurred. Nearly 24 hours after reports first began to circulate inside the US, conflicting reports are now coming out claiming that the the FBI was never hacked and all of this is just “fake news” or a “hoax” – perhaps being perpetrated by a Russian hacker. Sound like anything you have been hearing about recently?

As reported by Softpedia 1/6/2016, in follow-up to their original story 1/5/2016, “Plone, the company which developed the content management system (for the FBI), says the hack is just a hoax, explaining that CyberZeist is trying to use a high-profile site such as the FBI in order to advertise a fake exploit that he sells online.

In a separate report on the same day, Bogdan Popa of Softpedia once again went on to quote Plone explaing that “It is extremely unlikely that the FBI would run such an old version of FreeBSD. Moreover, FreeBSD 6.2 provides Python 2.4, with the option of using Python 2.5. Plone does not run on such old versions of Python” – thus Plone concludes that all of this probably never happened.

Moreover, in an interview with The Hacker News, Plone officials added that:

“The issue we are fixing in no way resembles CyberZeist’s claims, neither do the issues we fixed last month.”

“The aim of releasing information from such a hack is to convince people that you’ve indeed hacked the target. Claims of hacks that only give information that is publicly available (such as open-source code) or impossible to verify (such as hashed passwords) are common signs of a hoax.”

“It is extremely easy to fake a hack like this; it takes rudimentary Photoshop skills or use of Chrome javascript developer console.”

However, in contradiction to one of Plone’s points on the matter, Popa goes on to point out how CyberZeist is no longer attempting to sell the zero-day exploit on Tor – while adding that since the FBI has yet to release any statement, at all on any of this, that no one can be certain what about this story is true or not.

In the mean time, CyberZeist has taken to Twitter to say that any reports saying the hack was a hoax are “false allegations” and that he will be releasing more information in the future to prove this.

Something I seem to have picked up on that no one else has is the cover photo of  CyberZeists’ Twitter account. This photo happens to be identical to a photo used by a website going by the name of TrueActivist.com. If that website sounds familiar to you it is because it was on a long list of websites The Washington Post alleges took part in disseminating fake news coverage to corrupt the US election on behalf of foreign actors..

What can we take from any of this?

In summary, we have a foreign/potential Russian hacker whom claims to have hacked the FBI/United States, whom also aligns with a press agency alleged to have disseminated “fake news” on behalf of the Russian Government, but the news of this hacker actually hacking into the FBI/US is a fake news story within itself?

At the same time, this hacker now claims that all the reports which have since come out calling the original reports fake, are fake themselves. Has your head exploded or are you still following?

In many ways though, it almost does not matter who is telling the truth or if the hack ever occurred. Over the last two days, this whole ordeal has taught us how foreign hackers and foreign news agencies can manipulate headlines and public reaction to those headlines right here inside the United States. In itself, this story proves everything we have been debating over the last sever months -whether this sort of thing was even possible or if the Russians/foreign actors were behind it.

Ironically it has taken “fake news” to reveal some critical truths.

All things considered, this particular story has changed my mind and I am now fully convinced foreign actors did corrupt US politics this year – or at least our media’s coverage of it and our public opinion towards it.


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